The legend of the leviathan hascome down to us through actual mention in the Bible and has remained intactfrom our Bronze Age informants.
Just as surely, it is plausiblethat this creature survived through the end of the Ice Age 12,000 years ago andthen slowly died out for reasons presently unclear. It certainly was not from a lack of food orpreferred habitats. The population maywell simply have crashed below sustainability during the PleistoceneNonconformity.
This fossil confirms the realityof this fearsome creature that was a whale hunter and certainly a serious threatto a fishing boat that looked much like a whale from below. We may even take the Jonah half seriouslynow. A whale hunting a ship is creditable. Swallowing Jonah and barfing him backimmediately is not impossible and compares to occasional shark attacks. Jonah was still a very lucky chap.
Leviathan sea monster fossil found in ancient Peruvian seabed
by Terrence Aym
The fossilized skull of a gigantic sea monster that attacked and atewhales was unearthed in an ancient seabed along the arid wilderness of thePeruvian coast.
The remains of the incredible creature are so huge, researchers havedubbed it "the Leviathan."
The Leviathan, a terrifying behemoth of the deep, is described in theBible's Old Testament. The Hebrews called it one of the seven princes of Helland its gatekeeper.
Those that observed it in the waters far offshore claimed the horriblething was the most terrifying creature in existence.
Long thought to be a myth, the Leviathan has been found. The fossil iswell-preserved and is a testament in living stone to the terrors of the seasthat early sailors faced.
The 12 million-year-old creature, more than 55 feet long, has hugeteeth and is believed to have once hunted and fed on other large aquaticanimals like seals, dolphins and other whales.
"It was a kind of a sea monster," Dr. Christian de Muizon,director of the
Natural History Museumin told BBC News. Paris
Writing about the discovery in the journal Nature, the research teamrelatehow they discovered the Leviathan skull in the Pisco-Ica
. desert of Peru
Olivier Lambert, a student of de Muizon, described the discovery:"It was the last day of our field trip when one of our colleagues came andtold us that he thought he'd found something very interesting. So we joined himand he showed it to us."
Although the specimen interested the student, he at first thought itwas the remains of a sperm whale and wasn't aware of the magnitude of thediscovery.
"We immediately saw that it was a very large whale and when welooked closer we saw it was a giant sperm whale with huge teeth."
What he thought was a sperm whale actually was a creature much larger,much more vicious, and much older. The Leviathan also has teeth on the upperand lower jaw whereas the sperm whale only has a set of lower teeth.
Researchers through the years have speculated that a creature likeLeviathan might exist based on teeth that have been found. Now with thediscovery of the massive skull, no doubt remains that such a prehistoric seacreature did live to terrorize the oceans.
The myth has become reality.
No one knows why the creature died out. More research may uncover thecause.
The entire research team are whale experts and fans of the novel"Moby Dick." In honor of the author, Herman Melville, they officiallynamed one of the greatest sea monster whales after him.
From now on, in scientific literature the fearsome beast will be knownas the "Leviathan melvillei."
Fossil of mega-toothed killer whale found in
Thu Jul 1, 2010 3:56pm GMT
By Eduardo Garcia
Leviathan Melvillei, which was named after the sea monster in the Bibleand the author of "Moby Dick" Herman Melville, is an ancestor of themodern day sperm whale, said Rodolfo Salas, a palaeontologist at Peru's NaturalHistory Museum who took part in the study.
"This is an enormous tooth, more or less 14 inches (36 cm)long," Salas told Reuters. "The features of the teeth lead us tobelieve that the Leviathan was a big predator. It has the largest teeth onrecord."
The fossil of Leviathan was found two years ago and a team of scientistsonly unveiled the results of their find this week. Leviathan lived roughly 12million years ago and its teeth were about twice as long as those of the greatdinosaur Tyrannosaurus Rex.
"The Leviathan could have fed on other whales, which were veryabundant and diverse in that period," said Salas.
As well as ten well-preserved teeth, the team of European and Peruvianpalaeontologists also found the whale's skull and its lower jaw. The findingswere published in the journal Nature and the fossil will soon go on exhibit in
'scapital. Lima, Peru
The discovery was made in 2008 in the Ocucaje desert in southern
,which millions of years ago was the bed of a sea, and an area that has yieldeddozens of big discoveries. Peru
"In terms of (ancient) vertebrate sea life,
has the privilege of havingthe most important site in the world, the Ocucaje desert, which is where we'vemade this find," said Salas. Peru
He said the Leviathan may have been bigger than one of itscontemporaries, the Carcharocles Megalodon, widely regarded as the largestshark that ever lived, at some 65.5 feet (20 metres) in length.
"The Leviathan could have been the biggest predator that has everlived in the sea," said Salas.
(Writing by Eduardo Garcia; Editing by Terry Wade and Vicki Allen)